What’s the latest pet trend? Cat patios – also known as “catios.” Basically, enclosed outdoor spaces where your cats can stay safe, and still enjoy the fresh air and interact with nature. According to The New York Times, catios are especially popular with people living in high rises – who are afraid their cats will fall or jump off their balcony – or out a window. They’re becoming more and more popular with homeowners who have big yards, but are worried about letting their cats roam free.

Some enclosures are simply patios, balconies, or decks enclosed with heavy black netting or chicken wire, maybe decorated with a scratching post, and a bench where the owner can hang out. While others are all-out fantasy cat playgrounds, complete with tunnels, ramps, tubes, towers, water fountains, and bridges that encircle trees high above the ground. Most catio enclosures are do-it-yourself projects, but a lot of mom-and-pop businesses are building custom cat enclosures and selling ready-made modular units that can easily be interconnected into cat-size kingdoms. Kind of like giant hamster habitats. Some pet owners even set up catios indoors – as play areas for their cats. Or when they’re introducing a new cat to the household. So the animals get used to each other before they start sharing the same territory.

Most vets say that cats don’t need outdoor exposure to be happy, but it’ll definitely provide more interest, and may even inspire them to get more exercise. If you install an outdoor enclosure, make sure it’s off the ground, to protect against fleas and other parasites. If you’d like to create a catio for your cat, try CatioShowcase.com.

Catio enclosures (cat patios):